Vets warn of tick-borne illnesses following mild winter

STRONGSVILLE, OH (WOIO) - Warmer weather means some pesky bugs are making an appearance in northeast Ohio and veterinarians said they're seeing a spike in the number of ticks on pets.

"I walk in the woods every day with my dogs and yesterday from my one dog I took 19 ticks off him and one from myself," said St. Francis Animal Hospital Dr. Dalia Bloze.

Bloze said this year the problem is worse than it's ever been. She blames the tick increase on a mild winter.

Pet owners call St. Francis Animal Hospital daily and others stop in with their dogs.

"(Ticks) can be very small and it's hard, you have to go through the skin and look for them after a walk," said Bloze.

When it comes to getting rid of ticks, time is of the essence.

"It's important to try to get them off within 24 hours, because, after 24 hours, they can spread disease," said Bloze.

Ticks can spread Lyme disease and many other illnesses that can make dogs sick, which is why it's important to check pets daily. If pet owners spot a tick, it should be removed right away.

"The favorite places for ticks are around the ear," said Bloze.

She said ticks also hide out under animal's legs and on their paws.

These days, ticks aren't just in the woods, pets can pick them up anywhere, including in a pet owner's backyard.

The good news is, as the tick problem gets worse, more preventatives make their way onto the market. There are topicals, oral products and collars. It's best to ask a vet which medication is best for your dog's lifestyle.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, it could take one to three weeks for pets to show signs of a tick-borne disease. Pet owners should look for changes in behavior or appetite.

Cats can also get ticks, but Bloze said it is far less common because they groom themselves often.

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